As a woman, I have been experiencing instances of sexism and sexual harassment since I was about twelve or thirteen. Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident as many women all over the world also go through the same thing on a daily basis. In a 2015 five-yearly review by the Equality and Human Right's Commission, they found that men were twice as likely to become a manager, director or senior official; the employment rate for women was lower; and women are more likely to be a victim of rape and domestic violence. While things are slightly improving, we still have a long way to go in terms of achieving equality for all. Today I want to look at the inequality all women face on a regular basis, with this being everyday sexism and sexual harassment:
Only being seen for their looks and not their brains Now, I don't know about you, but there are many times when I have been watching TV and I have noticed that all of the women seem to have this 'conventional attraction' about them. That is that they all seem to live up to the societal standards of beauty and you very rarely see a woman on TV that doesn't live up to this standard. Whenever I look at the men on TV, they very rarely seem to live up to the same standard. I would say that there is some sort of standard when it comes to men and their looks (which, obviously, there shouldn't be). However, a lot of the time when I look on social media and see people talking about a TV show, there are still people that focus on the looks of a woman and focus on pointing out her 'flaws' (which she definitely doesn't have) in that department, whereas they will very rarely focus on the looks of a man. Even when a woman is smart, people will still overlook that aspect of her and continue to focus on her looks. How about, like with men, we stop paying so much attention to a woman's looks for once and start paying attention to the other aspects of her. After all, when you die, no one's going to be talking about how good looking you were; they're going to be talking about what you were like as a person. So let's start celebrating that.
The difference between wearing skirts and wearing trousers I don't know about you, but I have noticed a distinct difference between when I've been out and about wearing trousers and when I've been out and about wearing a skirt. That difference is that when I wear trousers, no one really seems to bat an eyelid or give me a second look. However, whenever I wear a skirt, I have noticed that people tend to (and this is mostly men) look me up and down as if I'm a piece of meat. As women, we should be able to be out in public wearing whatever we want without men finding it acceptable to give us the second eye.
The constant wolf-whistling If any man is doing this who finds it acceptable to wolf-whistle whenever a woman walks past (or rev their car engine, for that matter), please note that we do not find that flattering and actually want to punch you in the face. What do you actually get out of wolf-whistling at us? If you think you can 'get' us, then you are very much wrong. I can hand-on-heart say that if any man wolf-whistled at me or revved his car engine, I would never go anywhere near him because I can't be dealing with the cockiness.
Grabbing us by the waist to move us out of the way Why? I mean, would you grab a man by the waist to move him out the way? Pretty sure the answer to that is no. I know for a fact that whenever someone is in my way and I would like them to move, I just say "excuse me, can you move, please?" and they move straight away. But no, apparently a lot of men think it's acceptable to put their hands on our waists to get us to move. I remember once when I was fifteen this guy (who was around my age) thought it was acceptable to do this and I was like 'seriously, what the f***?'. It's just so unnecessary. Just ask us to move and we'll be more than happy to do so. Don't put your hands on us and forcibly move us. It's pointless, it really is.
Trying to kiss us when we're clearly not interested Girls, I'm sure we've all been there. You're out somewhere, possibly in a pub or club, and you've got chatting to this guy. You thought he was alright before but after you get chatting it turns out you're not that interested in him and have no intention of getting with him or taking this anywhere further than just a little chat. You subtly try to make it clear to him that you're not interested, whilst trying to not appear rude. But then you start to notice that he's beginning to lean in towards you to kiss you. You start to back away and laugh it off, again, an obvious sign that you're not interested, as if you were, you'd be leaning in too. But he still insists on leaning in and continuously keeps on trying to kiss you and keeps on trying to convince you that you want it as well. Lads, read the room! We're not interested. Now please, go and find someone who is, because you're really getting nowhere here.
Following us around I'm sure we've all been in this situation, ladies, where we've just been out and about going about our day and you begin to notice that this guy seems to be following you around. Admittedly, it could just be innocent and he could just be going to the same places as you. Or, he could be one of those people who thinks it's acceptable to follow women around, for whatever reason that may be. I always have to try and be really wary of my surroundings. I love listening to music when I'm out on my own as it gives me something else to focus on, but I always have to have it turned down more than I would like so I can hear what's going on around me. I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to check that no one's following me and if I think that they are I have to try and look down the street and see if I can see anywhere that I can quickly pop into in the hope of shaking them off. I always try and look out for other women as well in case they're being followed and I think all us girls can agree that if we do see this happening, it is our duty to go over to them, act like we've been friends with them for years, make them wary of the situation, and ensure that they are safe before going our separate ways. We are a sisterhood and we're not only doing it for ourselves, but we're also looking out for ourselves too (I really hope you see what I did there, otherwise that entire sentence was pointless).
Groping any part of our body I mean, it's just really unnecessary. Not once have I ever gone on a night out and decided 'you know what? I really hope I get groped by a random stranger tonight'. I can assure you no other woman has thought this way either. When we go on a night out, it's because we want to have a good night with our friends, enjoy ourselves, and NOT get groped by random strangers. Please have a bit of respect for women's bodies and stop feeling the need to touch them unnecessarily where your touches are not wanted.
Being sexually coerced into roles In light of the #MeToo movement, I think we can all agree it really opened our eyes as to the type of s*** women have to go through on the basis of trying to get employment. I have heard of this type of thing going on, not just in Hollywood, but in various employment settings where the men at the top feel the need to make it known to women that they can get further in their career by sleeping with them. In many cases, these women are forced into doing this as they are also threatened with losing their job if they fail to comply with these men's requests. I was only a teenager when everything started coming out and it really made me scared for when I would eventually enter the world of work and have to start applying for jobs. I was worried that I would be forced into situations by men who felt they owned women's bodies when in reality they are nothing short of pathetic and deserve all the bad karma in the world. I would like to think that we are finally getting somewhere with this, however, there is always new information coming to light that sexual coercion is still happening to women and I really wish this was not the world we live in. Thankfully, people now feel able to let their voices be heard, but that doesn't take away from what was and is still going on behind the scenes.
The gender pay gap There are still people out there that seem to think that the gender pay gap doesn't exist and that women are being paid the exact same as men for doing the exact same work. In 2020, the Office for National Statistics found that the gender pay gap was down from 17.4% in 2019 to 15.5%. It was also found that this gap was at almost zero for workers aged under forty (hurray!), however, it was about 10% for those over forty. This gap seemed more prevalent in those with higher-earning jobs than lower-earning jobs, with this suspected to be because women are more likely to work part-time than full time and are therefore more likely to be in the lower-earning jobs. Thankfully, this is going down and hopefully, within my lifetime there won't be a gender pay gap at all, but that doesn't diminish from the fact that people have still found it acceptable to pay women a lower wage for doing the same job, purely due to their sex.
Lack of representation in the media Over lockdown, I think we'll all agree that we have all been able to watch a lot more TV than normal. During this time, I have noticed that, in regards to TV presenters, there is noticeably more male than female presenters and there very rarely seems to be a female presenter presenting on her own or with another female presenter (in fact, the only example I can think of here is Tess and Claudia on Strictly). ITV has a lot of game shows on in the afternoon, and a man presents every single one of those game shows. Do they not see women as cut out for hosting game shows? Or are they not capable of hosting any show on their own without a man also having to be there? Obviously, all of these men deserve to have these jobs as I am sure that they have worked very hard to get to where they are. However, in this world, women have to work at least twice as hard to get to the same level as men and this shouldn't have to be the case. This doesn't just apply to TV, but to pretty much any job that you want to get to the top of. We're constantly having the same male faces put in front of us on TV shows and just for once I would like to see women getting more representation and being allowed to shine and show an example to young girls that they are able to get to the top of their game; something I never saw when I was a little girl.
I'm sure we can all think of a million other examples of where women have faced sexism and sexual harassment in everyday situations. Maybe I should do a part two to this post? Please let me know if you would like to see that. Also, let me know of any examples you can think of that I haven't already included in this post.
"Life doesn't always give us what we deserve, but rather, what we demand. And so you must continue to push harder than any other person in the room" ~ Wadi Ben-Hirki
Love Beth xx